Truckers Hit the Brakes

CommonDreams (first published in The Nation)

by Barbara Ehrenreich

Until the beginning of this month, Americans seemed to have nothing to say about their ongoing economic ruin except, “Hit me! Please, hit me again!” You can take my house, but let me mow the lawn for you one more time before you repossess. Take my job and I’ll just slink off somewhere out of sight. Oh, and take my health insurance too; I can always fall back on Advil.

Then, on April 1, in a wave of defiance, truck drivers began taking the strongest form of action they can take: inaction. Faced with $4-per-gallon diesel fuel, they slowed down, shut down and started honking. On the New Jersey Turnpike, a convoy of trucks stretching “as far as the eye can see,” according to a turnpike spokesman, drove at a glacial 20 miles per hour.

Outside of Chicago, they slowed and drove three abreast, blocking traffic and taking arrests. They jammed into Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; they slowed down the Port of Tampa, where fifty rigs sat idle in protest. Near Buffalo, one driver told the press he was taking the week off “to pray for the economy.”

The truckers who organized the protests–by CB radio and Internet–have a specific goal: reducing the price of diesel fuel. They are owner-operators, meaning they are also businesspeople, and they can’t break even with current fuel costs. They want the government to release its fuel reserves. They want an investigation into oil company profits and government subsidies of the oil companies. Of the drivers I talked to, all were acutely aware that the government had found, in the course of a weekend, $30 billion to bail out Bear Stearns, while their own businesses are in a tailspin.

But the truckers’ protests have ramifications far beyond the owner-operators’ plight–first, because trucking is hardly a marginal business. You may imagine, here in the blogosphere, that everything important travels at the speed of pixels bouncing off of satellites, but 70 percent of the nation’s goods–from Cheerios to Chapstick–travel by truck. We were able to survive a writers’ strike, but a trucking strike would affect a lot more than your viewing options. As Donald Hayden, a Maine trucker put it to me: “If all the truckers decide to shut this country down, there’s going to be nothing they can do about it.”

Read entire article…

Its nice to see that there is a segment of our population that isn’t going to take this lying down.. And this is the segment who’s actions could very well end up affecting every single person in this country in one way or another.

Now the rest of us need to wake up and DO something!

Photo by chascow. Used with permission.
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28 thoughts on “Truckers Hit the Brakes

  1. Good post nwmuse….I stated year’s ago if we were to turn this mess around it would take the trucker’s..While we all will be affected in higher price;s and shortage’s of good’s their help could shut this country down and wake up the sleeping voter’s..Blessings

  2. Two bargain and one regional airlines have shut down in the past week. That’s a minor inconvenience for travelers. If the truckers shut down, you better start harvesting Dandelions this spring. Tree bark also offers high nutrition food, but, steer clear of the sumacs, walnuts, butternuts, almonds, yews, hemlock and cherries. They all contain cyanide.

  3. As far as surviving the writer’s strike. Things in Los Angeles are not back to normal yet. People are still losing everything they had. However, if they ever have money again, there will nothing to eat if the truckers stay on strike.

  4. Gummitch would be right out there munching on the lawn. There is at least one advantage to being sheepish. :lol:

  5. I’m proud that TheZoo has posted this article; it’s the sort of information that Think Progress should be offering and rarely does.

  6. When I was a teen, we lived in a community where every driveway was gated so-to-speak and sheep were allowed to roam inside the area (In north Dallas.). The only investment in lawn care was a pooper scooper and a compost heap. Everyone planted a grass that had it’s origins in Peru or Brazil. The sheep reproduced and supplied an annual income equal to about $400 per household. The type-a ram actually tackled and held down an intruder until police arrived on the scene (single instance).

  7. LOL
    This is something of a cosmic conjunction for me, today I completed a pack train class, learning all about how to load and lead caravans of mules and horses….

  8. That will be great in case you ever want to join the circus Raven. :lol:

    Can you tell I’m reading “Water for Elephants”?

  9. My Italian grandmother used to cook dandelion greens and make dandelion salad. Delicious. The unfortunate problem is finding a place where they’re not growing in pesticide.

  10. And didn’t diesel used to be the cheaper fuel? Isn’t there less refining required?

  11. Raven, did you work with mule’s and horses.?..Big enlightening diffrences…..On mountain terrain and tiny switch back hill’s I prefere mule’s…..On Flat land and easy trail’s I prefere horses….In many condition’s mule’s are smarter, especiely in safety issues…..Horses will thrash around when caught in wire and most mules will stand like a stone untill someone rescues them…Do hope your are enjoying the experience…..I prefered to lead the pack animal’s from the ground in the mountain terraine instead of rideing, just me…It meant slower going but I don’t do well perched on a mount on the skinny mountain trail’s…LOL.Chicken me….Blessings

  12. I’m just learning all this stuff, which1, thanks for your experiences.
    This is my first experience with mules, I had horses as a kid, and learned to ride.
    My training so far has just been at the paddock, but I did well enough to catch the eye of the instructor and my supervisor, I expect to get assigned to pack details when they arise.
    There are enough designated wilderness areas in the neighborhood that pack trains are in demand, both for supplying ground crews going in, and hauling the smoke-jumpers out.

  13. Diesel is actually in short supply because of the winter demand for fuel oil. Demand was high because the winter hot spots moved to the mid-Atlantic and east-Pacific this year. Both North America and Europe suffered as a result. Next cycle should return to the trends driven by global warming.

  14. Helicopter fuel is really expensive…
    I feel fortunate that I have environmentally conscious supervisors, they are young enough to have a care for the forests, and the future of humans in general.

    Thanks, Walt, I have heard of the heating oil connection with fuel supply and demand situations as well.

  15. Raven, from the start of the book I’m reading the circus doesn’t seem like any fun at all.

    Perhaps the rodeo is more fun.

  16. Dog races as well, Shayne. People are really good at using living things for entertainment — and then throwing them away.

  17. Actually, my dad used an old auto engine to run a generator and its water jacket to heat the house from about November to March in Baltimore. He had three in-line mufflers to silence the noise a bit, but at night you could not help to not hear the thing. We were off the grid for five months of the year and motor fuel was inexepensive then!

  18. Finelly getting back to the site…Good job Raven….The old packer that taught me what little I learned started us on ground work…We had several long day’s of learning and loading on stand’s first..Knot tieing was among the thing’s we had to work on…..Have forgotten much of it…Then we went on to loading the animal’s and in what order..

    The packer was a good old boy and he took very good care of his string as well as his herd left at home…..He owned a total of about 90 head, had his own stallion and bred his own replacement’s…Never saw him abuse any and was very pickie on the line up….He went with which animal wanted to be where in the line up and in all the trip’s out never saw a wreck happen.

    We had to load everything for camp set up including food and all the feed for the pack string as well…Montana has/ had strict law’s about the feed in the wilderness or hunting areas…We had to take in certafied Alfalfa pellett’s and grain only…Anything diffrent was against the law and a packer could loose their licence….Many year’s of noxious weed seed in bailed feed had caused a problem and the use of it was not allowed..Don’t know how it is now…This same old guy taught me how to ride horses.I bred, imprinted and did round pen training of horses several year’s before I learned to ride…Still not a good rider but I can spot a sick horse in any herd quicker than most.

    After I ran the gamett of the horse packing I went with a friend who had llamas…..That was a lot less work and little to no impact on the inviroment..There’s no riding the llamas and the amount you can pack in and out is reduced by a lot…6o pound’s was all they would carry so we also carried a lot in pack frame’s…Saw my first up close and personal cougar on our first trip out…..Sadly my camera was in my pack instead of around my neck……The llama’s gave us a head’s up when they balked for a moment, the cat was on a ledge about 10 feet away….We both started talking and laughing and the cat took off…A beautiful sight..

    Sorry for the length…..Hope your travel’s are good one’s…..Blessings

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